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  1. #1
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Fantasy Book of the Month June 2011: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin

    A recent publication, this one, first published in 2010.



    It is the first volume in the Inheritance Trilogy.

    Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

    With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.
    Discuss!

    Mark
    Mark

  2. #2
    The Enigmatic Paradox ColdSun's Avatar
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    I've had this on my list for a while. I guess I will move it to the top. Be back after the read.

  3. #3
    I really enjoyed this book. It's been awhile since I read it, and a re-read is probably not going to happen in the next little while, but I'll go based off of what I remember.

    I found the writing style to be slightly off putting at first, but it didn't take long to grow on me. I know that there are comments on amazon that really didn't like how Jemisin broke up paragraphs, but I thought it worked quite well. I think that if this bothered you though, it could really ruin the book for you.

    I also enjoyed most of the characters. While Yeine herself sometimes grated on me, I found the other characters well done. I also found myself really warming to Yeine by the end of the book. I really enjoyed her narrative voice. I found the history of the world interesting, especially the conflict between the three gods Itempas, Nahadoth, and Enefa and how that directly effected how things are now. The idea of gods being enslaved is an interesting one, and I think Jemisin really made it work. The godlings, and especially Sieh, really earned my sympathies by the end.

    I found the whole political aspect of the book a little overplayed. It never really captured my interest, and her two competitors (their names escape me right now) never really resonated with me, outside of the one scene with the girl having Sieh tortured. That one managed to strike a cord. Outside of that, I found some of the sex scenes a bit torturous. Maybe its just me, but I found them borderline cringe worthy.

    Overall though, a great read for me. I can understand people not enjoying it though, especially if the writing style didn't tweak your interest. I thought it was an easy read, and overall rather predictable, but that didn't hurt its value at all for me. I thought the ending was great. And if you enjoyed this book, I thought The Broken Kingdoms was even better. There is a new main protagonist, who I thought was quite well written and intriguing.

  4. #4
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darksbane View Post
    I found the writing style to be slightly off putting at first, but it didn't take long to grow on me.
    I've only read the first chapter at this point, but I think slightly is putting it mildly. It's bloated, very informal and wishy-washy, almost patronising and the structure leaves a lot to be desired. The author broke away from one sentence, added a paragraph which added absolutely nothing to that particular moment, and then went back into it.

    Has she not heard of footnotes? They'd clear up the paragraphs so much more.

  5. #5
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I enjoyed this one a lot when I read it last year. I liked the gods/and humans dichotomy and thought the feel of the novel was pretty powerful.

    I was disappointed to see this NOT get the Nebula. I haven't read the subsequent novels as of yet.

  6. #6
    I'm ashamed to admit that I started this book last week, then got distracted and went on to other books. I guess it just hasn't grabbed me, at least not yet.

    I did like the author's digressions, though. To me, it sounds more like somebody sitting there telling you a story. So I don't mind that part. I think I'm mostly just a bit tired of young-person-unexpectedly-destined-to-inherit-throne/power/everything books.

    I'll try to get back to this in the next week or two...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerwell View Post
    I've only read the first chapter at this point, but I think slightly is putting it mildly. It's bloated, very informal and wishy-washy, almost patronising and the structure leaves a lot to be desired. The author broke away from one sentence, added a paragraph which added absolutely nothing to that particular moment, and then went back into it.

    Has she not heard of footnotes? They'd clear up the paragraphs so much more.
    I thoroughly disagree. I found the writing superb; very conversational and engaging. When I read this earlier in the year, I felt that the unique, stream of consciousness writing was one of the things that made it stand out.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerwell View Post
    I've only read the first chapter at this point, but I think slightly is putting it mildly. It's bloated, very informal and wishy-washy, almost patronising and the structure leaves a lot to be desired. The author broke away from one sentence, added a paragraph which added absolutely nothing to that particular moment, and then went back into it.

    Has she not heard of footnotes? They'd clear up the paragraphs so much more.
    I hate footnotes.

    I understand complaints on breaking away from sentences, but the purpose behind that becomes clear as the book goes on. But I did not find it bloated in any sense.

    I think I ended up enjoying the book so much because she went a different direction than is typical in a fantasy book, in terms of style. I found it new and refreshing, but like I said, I did take time to adjust so maybe it'll get better for you as well. But it seems to me you are less receptive to it than I was, so I have my doubts.

  9. #9
    Registered User JustaStaffer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke_B View Post
    I thoroughly disagree. I found the writing superb; very conversational and engaging. When I read this earlier in the year, I felt that the unique, stream of consciousness writing was one of the things that made it stand out.
    I'm definitely more in this camp. I thought it was well done. Jemisin used they structure and style to make it feel really intimate.

    I also liked the fact that even though there are sequels out, I don't necessarily feel the need to jump into them. It's a very self contained novel that leaves the opportunity for further exploration, but also wraps up the narrative perfectly on its own.

    HTK is a really good example to me of modern fantasy (modern in a literary sense, not chronological).
    Last edited by JustaStaffer; June 2nd, 2011 at 03:42 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User Paks's Avatar
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    I've started reading this one, I have had the ebook for a while and figured I should finally start it. I am only several chapters into it so far but I have pretty well got the hang of her style. The story has managed to grip me for now so it will be interesting to see where it leads.

  11. #11
    Registered User Carlyle Clark's Avatar
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    I also loved her writing style and it was because it was informal. To me, first person not written informally almost wastes the point of making it first person. If you are not going to engage me personal, then use the all the advantage of third person to engage me that way.

    The thing I enjoyed most about HTK is that she did in one book what I hear a lot of authors claim they are going to do in the courses of their series: not follow the standard tropes while initially appearing to.

    Also the otherness of the Gods in the book as well as their relationships with each other was portrayed very well, especially Sieh. I think the political stuff, which is front and center in so many fantasies, was meant to be in the background, basically just a Macguffin that forces Yeine to move rapidly and desperately.

  12. #12
    Too many books to read... Siberian's Avatar
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    I finished this book fairly quickly and enjoyed it quite a bit. I think N. K. Jemisin is a promising new author with great imagination.

    I really liked the solid worldbuilding:from cosmogony to the UN - like setup of the world (except with the one absolute source of power). Yes, it's a classical order vs. chaos (or day vs. night) setup but with a twist. The plot was gripping. I'm usually the one to come up with several possible scenarios of events as I read, but Jemisin managed to catch me by surprise a few times.

    Now, it wasn't without a few bumps, especially with the writing style. I got used to it pretty quickly and didn't mind digressions per se, but still felt they could have been less jarring. I was also annoyed with Yeine's passivity at times. She was supposed to be a ruthless leader of her people and yet she allowed her cousin to do whatever she wanted. They were both full bloods, couldn't she countermand her orders?

    All in all, a solid debut that can be read as a standalone since the next book features a different protagonist.

  13. #13
    Reader Moderator NickeeCoco's Avatar
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    I must admit, at first I was put off by the writing. I wasn't really digging the way the narrator jumped around. However, once the story got going, I began to understand why it was written the way it did, and once I understood, I loved it.

    The way Jemisin structured the book was well done. Once I figured out that the ethereal conversation bit was because the main character was dead and talking to the bit of the god's soul that was inside of her, I really got into the book. I wanted to know why she was dead and how she was going to continue.

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought that the way the gods were portrayed was fantastic.

    This was a very quick read for me. Two days of reading and I was done. The ending surprised me a bit. I knew something along those lines was going to happen, but not what actually did.


    Quote Originally Posted by Siberian View Post
    I was also annoyed with Yeine's passivity at times. She was supposed to be a ruthless leader of her people and yet she allowed her cousin to do whatever she wanted. They were both full bloods, couldn't she countermand her orders?
    I thought that it worked well for Yeine. While she was a full blood, she really did not understand everything that was going on. She was a barbarian from the north and was a complete fish out of water. I liked that she just laid low and observed. When she did try to do something, something that she thought would help her people, all she got was a war and the threatened annihilation of her people. Also, she had the gods on her side. She had a part of a god inside of her. She was putting her faith in that, something I actually admired about her.
    Last edited by NickeeCoco; June 7th, 2011 at 09:27 AM.

  14. #14
    Too many books to read... Siberian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickeeCoco View Post
    I thought that it worked well for Yeine. While she was a full blood, she really did not understand everything that was going on. She was a barbarian from the north and was a complete fish out of water. I liked that she just laid low and observed. When she did try to do something, something that she thought would help her people, all she got was a war and the threatened annihilation of her people.
    Which would have happened anyway. At least she fought in this case.

    Also, she had the gods on her side. She had a part of a god inside of her. She was putting her faith in that, something I actually admired about her.
    She should have at least thought about some options.

  15. #15
    And sleep deprived... starry-eyed's Avatar
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    Overall, I would consider HTK a powerful first novel. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing style, finding it created a tension and perspective well suited to the plot. Jemisin's greatest strength was her portrayal of internal family politics. The first person POV allowed us to experience Yeine's emotions as she becomes immersed in a hopeless situation. The petty vindictiveness and cruelty of family members towards the one they deem deficient was vividly wrought. Another little gem: Yeine's understanding of her mother transforms from fairytale simplicity to a deeper, darker awareness an underlying ruthlessness. Really added some depth to the story and was tied in well with the plot.

    Overall plot development and timing were weaker elements. The storyline felt as if it were sometimes pausing and resting, then gathering steam, then rushing to its conclusion. This, in itself, is fine, but here the change ups felt clumsy and off. The external world building where we might have been exposed to more about the land and the peoples was sadly absent. To be fair, they weren't needed to tell this story, but I missed them just the same.


    Full disclosure: I read this novel a year ago and tried to skim it over so I could finally get back start participating in this book club again. It's clearly been a long time, since it took me forever to find the link to this thread.

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